A negligent driver has hit you, causing serious injury to you and severe damage to your vehicle. Now you’re wondering what’s next. How do you file an insurance claim against the other driver to recover your damages? Are you even entitled to do so in the first place?
You first need to know that dealing with a third-party insurance company is not always hassle-free. Insurance companies have a reputation for applying unscrupulous tactics like manipulation, coercion, lowballing, or, rarely, outright fraud when dealing with accident victims.
The good news is that when you have an experienced attorney on your side, you can be sure of getting fair compensation for all your losses. Our skilled Pensacola car accident attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers can help you file an insurance claim against other drivers and navigate this process smoothly. We know how to work towards a fair settlement from the third-party insurer.
Call our office at (850) 542-2716 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!
What is a Third-Party Insurance Claim?
When someone else causes damage to your property, it’s called “third-party liability.”
But what if the at-fault party does not have sufficient auto insurance coverage (or is not insured)? In that case, you would have to use your own insurance (if you have collision coverage) after filing the third-party claim.
That means your auto insurer would cover leftover expenses for your damages. Your insurer would then have to sue the at-fault driver and their insurer to recover their costs.
When Should You File a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company?
If you are involved in an auto collision caused by another driver, you may recover your damages by filing a third-party claim against their auto insurer. But under what specific circumstances should you pursue this option?
Here are three scenarios where it makes sense to file a claim about the at-fault driver’s insurer and not yours:
- When you are not at-fault and do not have collision coverage. If you are sure you were not to blame for the accident but still want to seek compensation for your damages, consider pursuing a third-party claim. This way, you can avoid having to pay out-of-pocket for your damages.
- When you are not at-fault and do not want to start a claim with your insurer. If you are confident that you were not at-fault for the accident but don’t want to start a claim with your auto insurer, you might file a third-party lawsuit instead. This could save you time and money while also avoiding unnecessary stress.
- When you do not want to pay your deductible. It is common for insurers to require customers to pay deductibles before they receive benefits. For example, many policies require customers to pay $1,000 per accident before their insurer provides coverage. If you are unwilling to pay your deductible, you might file a third-party claim. This way, your insurer will only cover your remaining damages.
How Does Making a Third-Party Insurance Claim Differ from a First-Party Claim?
The most obvious difference between a third-party and a first-party claim is that you are making a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company rather than your auto insurer. However, there are several important distinctions between the two types of coverage. Here is a closer look:
- You must show that the at-fault car owner was negligent to win a third-party claim. Fault does not matter when making a first-party personal injury protection claim (PIP), However, you must show a third party was at fault when making a claim against the other person’s bodily injury or property damage coverage or claiming your uninsured motorist (UM) insurance to cover damages when the other party’s insurance is insufficient or nonexistent.
- In a third-party claim, the other driver must have been at-fault for your injuries or property damage. If you are found to be partially at-fault for the collision, however, the value of your settlement could be reduced under Florida’s comparative negligence rules. On the other hand, it does not matter whether you were at-fault in a first-party claim.
- You usually will to wait longer to receive payment on a third-party claim than on a first-party claim because you are suing someone else, and the third-party insurer is not your ally.
What Will You Need to Make a Third-Party Claim?
If you decide to make a third-party claim for damages, you’ll need to gather some information about the accident. This includes:
- Your name, address, phone number, and email address
- A copy of your policy (if applicable)
- Proof of ownership of the vehicle
- Contact information for the at-fault party
- Other documents that prove the identity of the person who caused the accident
How to File An Insurance Claim Against Another Driver: Step-by-Step Guide
To get started, follow these steps for filing a third-party claim:
1. Call the Police and First Responders
First responders such as police officers and emergency medics often work closely with the insurance companies that handle third-party claims. They are also trained to help people file insurance claims. Therefore, call 911 immediately after the accident. This will ensure that the police report accurately reflects the details of the accident.
2. Gather all Relevant Data at the Scene
As you wait for the first responders to arrive at the scene of the accident, collect the following information:
- Driver’s license number
- Name of the other driver
- Insurance policy numbers
- Photos of the damage and the scene of the crash
- Witnesses’ names and contact information
- License plate number
- Date and time of the incident
- Location of the crash
3. Contact Your Insurer
After collecting this data, contact your insurer immediately. Tell them everything that happened and ask them to send you a letter confirming that they received your claim. This is vital to avoid breaching your policy’s rules; plus, it makes the claim process hassle-free, as your insurer may work with the third-party insurer on your behalf.
4. Collect Proof of Fault
Once you have contacted your insurer, you will need proof that the other driver is responsible for causing the accident. That means providing evidence that they were driving under the influence, speeding, or otherwise negligent.
5. Send in the Evidence
Once you have collected enough evidence to prove the other driver’s negligence, you can submit it to your insurer. The insurer will then forward the evidence to the third-party insurer to investigate the case further.
6. Review Your Settlement Offer
The third-party insurer will review the evidence and determine whether the other driver was at-fault for the accident. Once they reach their decision, they will inform you of the amount of compensation you will receive from them. You can choose to accept the settlement offer or reject it. If you accept, then you must sign a release form so the third-party insurer can pay the money.
Tips and Strategies for Dealing with a Third-Party Insurance Company
If you want to know how to deal with a third-party insurance company, here are some quick tips and strategies to keep in mind:
- Keep copies of all correspondence and documents related to your claim. If you lose any of this paperwork, you could pay extra fees to retrieve it.
- Always keep track of the date and time of each phone conversation with the insurer. It helps to write notes about what was said during each call.
- Never share more than you need to. Insurance adjusters are notorious for asking for deep/personal information that they may use against you. So unless your lawyer is around, don’t give away too much info.
- Do not settle without consulting your attorney first. Settling claims without legal advice can cost you dearly later on.
- Work with an experienced injury lawyer. An attorney knows how to navigate the system and negotiate fair settlements on your behalf.
Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers Can Help!
At Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers, we understand how difficult it can be to deal with another driver’s insurance company after an auto accident. That’s why our team works hard to help clients get the maximum compensation possible for their losses.
We also provide free consultations to new clients who need help filing third-party insurance claims.
Insurance Claim FAQs
Why should I consult a lawyer in a third-party insurance claim?
Although you’re dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company directly and not the courts, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is still an excellent idea when making a claim. A lawyer will advise you of your rights and options, help you gather evidence, and prepare for trial if needed.
When would I file a car accident lawsuit against the other driver?
If you filed a third-party insurance claim and negotiations have broken down, filing a lawsuit can make the other insurance company provide the full compensation you are owed for your losses.